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Must a cheating spouse pay for the cost of a Minnesota divorce?

On Behalf of | Jul 14, 2023 | Family Law & Divorce

Adultery is one of the leading reasons that people in Minnesota file for divorce. Sometimes, an unfaithful spouse blindsides the other by filing for divorce, often in a desire to take their extramarital relationship to the next level. Other times, it is the spouse who got cheated on who decides that the marriage is effectively over because of the violation of their vows.

Regardless of who files for divorce, the spouse who did not cheat may feel like it would be very unfair for them to have to accept costs related to the divorce or lose much property in the process. As a result, they may wonder whether their unfaithful spouse will be required to pay for divorce proceedings in Minnesota.

Minnesota is a no-fault divorce state

Although there was once a time when people had to prove fault to divorce in many cases, that is not the reality in modern Minnesota. No-fault divorces in Minnesota make it quick and relatively easy for couples in unhappy or unhealthy relationships to decide to change their situation.

However, the implications of a no-fault divorce can be difficult for someone who feels wronged by their spouse to accept. For example, when dividing property under the state’s equitable distribution statute, a judge needs to be impartial. As a result, they won’t consider misconduct like adultery when deciding who keeps the home or how to split retirement accounts, for example.

Additionally, misconduct like adultery generally does not have any impact on child custody decisions. Judges want to create custody arrangements that are in the best interests of the children, and that will typically mean having the children spend liberal amounts of time with both parents, regardless of how the parents feel about each other. A spouse who feels wronged because of adultery may hope that the courts will grant them economic justice, but such punitive rulings are incredibly unlikely.

The one scenario in which a judge may impose consequences on an unfaithful spouse is when there is evidence that they used marital income or accrued debt that they included in the marital estate while conducting their affair. Judges might view such acts as the dissipation of marital property and could therefore choose to alter how they divide the assets and debts of the divorcing couple accordingly.

Learning more about Minnesota’s divorce rules can help people understand what to expect during their upcoming divorce proceedings. Seeking legal guidance is a good place to start.

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